How ‘In the Heights’ Casting Focused a Wider Problem of Afro-Latino Representation


Professor Tanya K. Hernández gave her expert opinion to Rolling Stone on Afro-Latino representation in Hollywood.

The accusation of colorism in the light-skinned casting choices illuminates a problem regarding whom Hollywood presents as “Latino,” and whom it excludes, according to Tanya K. Hernández, author of Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination. “There is often a complete erasure of Afro-Latinos, and a frozen, overly romanticized picture of indigenous peoples as only historical figures from a Mayan past,” she says. Any viewer of American TV or movies can observe that mainstream media typically highlights light-skinned Latinos, even though a 2014 Pew Research Center survey showed nearly one in four Latinos identifies as Afro-Latino.

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